Children Living in Linguistically Isolated Households, by Legislative District

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Learn More About Immigrants

Measures of Immigrants on
On, measures related to immigrant populations include the following: percentage of children living in "linguistically isolated" households (i.e., children in households without someone age 14 or older who speaks English "very well"), percentage of children ages 0-17 living with one or more foreign-born parent, and percentage of the population that is foreign-born, by age group. These data are estimates based on the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS). Data are available for:
  • Cities, school districts, and counties with 65,000+ residents, as single-year estimates;
  • Cities, school districts, and counties with 10,000+ residents, as 5-year estimates; and/or
  • Legislative districts, as 5-year estimates.
Bullying and Harassment at School
Family Structure
English Learners
Why This Topic Is Important
Children in immigrant families, including children who are foreign born or who live with at least one foreign-born parent, represent the fastest growing segment of the U.S. child population (1). In 2014, this group accounted for 25% of all children in the United States (2). This population is particularly large in California, where the proportion of foreign-born residents is the highest in the country (2, 3).

Children in immigrant families are more likely than other children to have household incomes below the Federal Poverty Level, to have parents with low educational attainment, to live in language-isolated households, and to be in fair or poor physical health (1). It is therefore important for schools, health care systems, government, and nonprofit organizations to address the needs of these children, and work to eliminate barriers to service. Also, foreign-born women tend to have a higher fertility rate than women born in the U.S., making increases in this population especially germane to providers of perinatal service and services to young children (4).

Today's immigrant children vary more by national origin and socioeconomic status than in previous years (5). The educational and health status of this population varies widely depending on many factors, such as the country of origin and length of time in the U.S. (6, 7).
For more information on this topic please see's Research & Links section.

Sources for this narrative:

1.  Child Trends Databank. (2014). Immigrant children. Retrieved from:

2.  As cited on, Children living with one or more foreign-born parent (regions of 65,000 residents or more). (2015). U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey. Retrieved from:

3.  Migration Policy Institute. (n.d.). State immigration data profiles: California. MPI Data Hub. Retrieved from:

4.  Grieco, E. M., et al. (2012). The foreign-born population in the United States: 2010 (Report No. ACS-19). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved from:

5.  Tienda, M., & Haskins, R. (2011). Immigrant children: Introducing the issue. The Future of Children, 21(1), 3-18. Retrieved from:

6.  Baum, S., & Flores, S. M. (2011). Higher education and children in immigrant families. The Future of Children, 21(1), 171-193. Retrieved from:

7.  Lewis, K., & Burd-Sharps, S. (2014). A portrait of California 2014-2015: California Human Development Report. Measure of America. Retrieved from:
How Children Are Faring
According to 2014 estimates, 49% of California children ages 0-17 lived with one or more foreign-born parents. This percentage is similar to previous years, though figures vary among California counties. For example, an estimated 63% of children in Santa Clara County had foreign-born parents, compared to 6% in Lassen County in 2010-14.

In 2014, an estimated 10% of California children lived in "linguistically isolated" households (i.e., households in which no person age 14 or older speaks English "very well"), down from 15% in 2007. The percentage of children living in linguistically isolated households also varied at the county level, from 1% to 24% in 2010-14.

An estimated 6% of California children ages 5-17 were born outside the U.S. in 2014. The figure is lower for young children ages 0-4 (2%). An estimated 15% of adults ages 18-24 and 38% ages 25-64 were born outside of the U.S. Compared to 2007 estimates, the statewide percentage of immigrant children and youth ages 0-24 was lower in 2014, whereas the figure for adults ages 25 to 64 was similar, and the figure for Californians ages 65 and older was higher.
Policy Implications
Children of immigrants are more likely to be low-income than children of native-born parents (1). Immigrant children, particularly those in low-income households, often confront hardships in accessing health care, safety-net public benefits, and quality education (2, 3, 4). In 2013, California passed immigration reform to target these disparities in immigrant families, supporting better outcomes for children (5). California offers some benefits to undocumented immigrant children that would not be available under federal law, including Medi-Cal, post-secondary financial aid, and domestic worker protections for their parents (5, 6). However, enforcement of other immigration regulations can have a negative effect on children. For example, the deportation of a parent or legal caregiver can cause family instability and economic hardship, and can exacerbate mental health problems (7, 8). New considerations of parental rights can help ensure those rights are respected and encourage parental stability for children (9).

Policies that could influence the well being of immigrant children include:
  • Ensuring that federal immigration reform is comprehensive and includes more efficient pathways to citizenship and other legal statutes that promote family unity; these may include providing basic support and child welfare services to immigrant children (2, 3, 7)
  • Targeting children in low-income, immigrant families for quality pre-kindergarten education and Medi-Cal/health care eligibility (3, 4, 10)
  • Ensuring linguistically and culturally appropriate health care for immigrant families (10)
  • Addressing the needs of English language learners in public schools including improving language instruction for school-age children (3, 4)
For more policy ideas and research on this topic see's Research & Links section or visit the Urban Institute or the National Immigration Law Center. Also see Policy Implications on under English Learners and College Eligibility.

Sources for this narrative:

1. Chaudry, A., & Fortuny, K. (2010). Children of immigrants: Economic well-being (Brief No. 4). Urban Institute. Retrieved from:

2. Hinojosa-Ojeda, R. (2010). Raising the floor for American workers: The economic benefits of comprehensive immigration reform. Center for American Progress & American Immigration Council. Retrieved from:

3. Hernandez, D. J., & Cervantes, W. D. (2011). Children in immigrant families: Ensuring opportunity for every child in America. First Focus & Foundation for Child Development. Retrieved from:

4. Haskins, R., & Tienda, M. (2011). The future of immigrant children (Policy Brief). The Future of Children. Retrieved from:

5. Morse, A., et al. (2013). 2013 immigration report. National Conference of State Legislatures, Immigrant Policy Project. Retrieved from:

6. California Student Aid Commission. (n.d.). California Dream Act. Retrieved from:

7. Cervantes, W., & Lincroft, Y. (2010). The impact of immigration enforcement on child welfare. First Focus & Migration and Child Welfare National Network. Retrieved from:

8. Enchautegui, M. E. (2013). Broken immigration policy: Broken families. Urban Institute. Retrieved from:

9. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (2013). Facilitating parental interests in the course of civil immigration enforcement activities. Retrieved from:

10. Ku, L., & Jewers, M. (2013). Health care for immigrant families: Current policies and issues. Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from:
Websites with Related Information
Key Reports and Research
County/Regional Reports
More Data Sources For Immigrants